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March 6, 2007

150 Years Since the Horrid Dred Scott Decision

The words 'people of the United States' and 'citizens' are synonymous terms, and mean the same thing. They both describe the political body who, according to our republican institutions, form the sovereignty, and who hold the power and conduct the Government through their representatives. They are what we familiarly call the 'sovereign people,' and every citizen is one of this people, and a constituent member of this sovereignty. The question before us is, whether the class of persons described in the plea in abatement compose a portion of this people, and are constituent members of this sovereignty? We think they are not, and that they are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word 'citizens' in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. On the contrary, they were at that time considered as a subordinate [60 U.S. 393, 405] and inferior class of beings, who had been subjugated by the dominant race, and, whether emancipated or not, yet remained subject to their authority, and had no rights or privileges but such as those who held the power and the Government might choose to grant them.
—Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, March 6, 1857

Source: U.S. Supreme Court DRED SCOTT v. SANDFORD, 60 U.S. 393 (1856) on FindLaw.com
Dred Scott Decision on the US National Archives and Records Administration Web site.
⇒ "The decision of Scott v. Sandford, considered by legal scholars to be the worst ever rendered by the Supreme Court, was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens of the United States."—US National Archives and Records Administration
Dred Scott Case Collection of the Washington University in Saint Louis.

Posted by niganit at March 6, 2007 7:22 AM
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